Okay, so first off, big snaps to Justin for championing the all-too-rare big-budget video with storyline, dialogue, and movie stars — especially when you know MTV and VH1 won’t air more than 30 seconds of “What Goes Around” before a horde of teenagers or a snarky hostbot starts screaming over the top of it. Seeing that this is the third single off FutureSex/LoveSounds, Justin probably could’ve gotten away with a far more economical performance video, so I’ll forgive him the indulgent (“directed and photographed by Samuel Bayer,” “written by Nick Cassavetes”) opening credits. Come on, you know it took J.T. all of 30 seconds to cook up this concept, probably after watching Match Point on DVD: “Sam! Nick! How about this? Me, making out with Scarlett Johansson, like, eleven times in nine minutes!” Ultimately, though, I’ve got mixed feelings about this clip, so let’s break it down into two categories:
Things I like about the video: Hearing a chick tell Justin Timberlake she finds him boring, even if 15 seconds later she’s agreeing to go home with him. Tons of lushly filmed “wah-chicka-wah” action. (I mean that in the artistic, not the pervy sense, naturally.) Scarlett’s raspy voice. Flaming hula-hoops as a knowing nod to Kelly’s “Shoes” video. More work for the underrated Shawn Hatosy! Profanity. And also, ScarJo shows us it’s not impossible to turn fake-drowning into foreplay. (Who knew?)
Things I dislike about the video: Justin’s outdated fedora/wifebeater/suspenders combo. Scarlett’s character sketched as “edgy” and “dangerous” through the use of black nail polish, a single lace glove, and the line “I like girls!” Unanswered questions, including: Why does Scarlett’s character have a dressing room? Is she supposed to be a “fire dancer” too? Where did the burning pileup in the road come from? And how is it that the crash happens at night, but Justin gets out of his car in the morning? Finally, what’s up with the message that the karmic payback for cheating on Justin Timberlake is death?